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Foot Health care

10 Common Causes of Foot Pain

Corns: Corns on the toes probably cause more foot pain and misery than any other single problem. Most corns are caused by crooked toes that won't lie flat in shoes. The constant rubbing against the shoe leads to a cone-shaped thickening of the skin, similar to a callus. In mild cases the corn may be padded to protect the sensitive tissue. When the pain persists, surgery is used to straighten the toe from its contracted position. 

 Calluses: A callus is a thickened area of skin. It usually results from recurring pressure and friction. When one foot bone bears too much weight and pressure, a callus quickly develops beneath it. Your foot and ankle specialist can make a prescription support to improve the weight distribution across the bottom of the foot. Surgery may also be used to place the bones in a more ideal position. 

Bunions: There are many causes for bunions including injury, arthritis, poor posture and heredity. A bunion is the progressive movement of the big toe toward the second toe, causing a "bump" of bone to form on the side and top of the big toe joint. At worst, the bunion can lead to an arthritic or dislocated toe with arch, leg and back pains. There are many ways to treat bunions, but surgical treatment is the only way to remove the bunion and restore the big toe to its proper position. Most people who elect to have bunion surgery have it performed on an out-patient basis, which permits a relatively quick return to walking and normal activity. 

Nail Problems:    An ingrown nail occurs when a toenail edge imbeds itself into the surrounding skin. It can cause pain, swelling, redness and often becomes infected. Home treatment may consist of soaking the affected toe in warm Epsom salt water and then packing cotton at the nail edge to keep it from piercing the flesh. Foot and ankle specialists handle ingrown toenails on a daily basis using the most advanced techniques to minimize discomfort and provide rapid healing.

 Flat feet: The main cause of a flat foot (or low arch) is an abnormal bone structure. The "flat foot" causes muscles, tendons and ligaments to work harder, resulting in pain, cramps and increased fatigue of the foot and leg. Without treatment, the symptoms can increase. If these symptoms linger, you should get professional help from a foot and ankle specialist. The specialist will study X-rays, determine the severity of the problem and begin a treatment program to relieve the discomfort and stop the progression of the abnormality. Treatment ranges from supports to surgical reconstruction of the foot.

 Arch Pain: The arch is a bridge between the front and back part of the foot. It bears a lot of weight and is subject to a lot of stress. When you feel pain in the arch it can mean the bones, ligaments and muscles are overworked and tired. Overworking the arch can also cause leg cramps and even low back pain. Arch pain can also mean you suffer from flat feet, have poor circulation, are overweight, have arthritis or are anemic.

Heel Pain: There are many causes of heel pain, and your foot and ankle specialist is trained to diagnose and treat them. Pain may occasionally be relieved by padding the shoe with soft foam rubber. When that home remedy fails, your foot and ankle specialist will prescribe other treatments to relieve your pain. (For more information on heel pain, see What Can I Do About Heel Pain?.)

Sprains and Fractures: Sprains and fractures of the foot and ankle bones are common and can result in long-term disability if not properly treated. A sprain is a tear in the ligament that takes place when the ligament is stretched too far. A fracture is a bone break that can happen in several ways. The most common break results when a ligament rips away a piece of the bone to which it was attached. Pain and swelling accompany sprains and fractures, followed by discoloration due to injury to the small blood vessels around the injury. First aid can include application of ice to the injured area and keeping weight off the foot. You should seek professional help and advice from a podiatrist as soon as possible.

 Sports Injuries: Our active population is subject to many injuries as they take part in sports, and problems involving the feet are numerous. Among the most common are shin splints, stress fractures, ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis and pains in the arch and ball of the foot. Several of the problems develop over a period of time, resulting from repeated, high stress activity. Participation in sports activities requires careful training and conditioning. Sports injuries of the feet should be attened to quickly by a podiatrist.

 Skin Problems: Our skin is the most accessible part of the body and often provides visible evidence of what is wrong inside. The most common skin problems seen by a podiatrist include contact dermatitis, warts and fungus. Contact dermatitis is an irritating skin rash caused by a chemical coming in contact with the skin. The chemicals may be materials in shoes and socks. Removing the material from contact with the skin removes the problem. Warts are often mistaken for corns or calluses, but they are growths caused by a virus that enters the skin through a break. Early diagnosis and professional treatment usually eliminates warts. Home treatment often is not effective and can result in greater damage. 

"Athlete's foot" is a common fungus that causes itching and irritation. A foot and ankle specialist treats this condition with oral and topical medication.

Shoes and foot health
Over the years, shoes became important fashion accessories and more attention was paid to the style of the shoe then the comfort and practicality of the shoe.

High heels and pointy toes may promote a more stylish appearance and a well turned calf, but are murder to the feet, creating a myriad of foot problems in later years. It is interesting and shocking to note that about 80% of foot problems that are treated occur in women.

It is suggested that ill fitting, high heeled, pointy shoes only be worn for short periods of time and that a person should not walk long distances in them, as this not only causes foot problems, but may cause injury to the spine and back muscles as well.

Causes of foot problems
It is reported that the style of shoe worn is one of the major reasons for foot problems, as well as the fit of the shoe.

Some other reasons for foot problems are obesity (being too heavy for your feet), diabetes, arthritis, poor blood circulation, wearing socks or stockings that are too tight and not washing and drying the feet properly.

Tips for good foot health
The following are some pointers for good foot health:

Wash feet daily, rinse off all soap and dry thoroughly, taking care to dry between the toes.
Nails should be trimmed straight across and should not be cut to short – don’t cut out or dig at the corners of the nails.

Corns, calluses and bunions should be treated by a professional, as they are an indication of a problem. Trimming or shaving them can cause more problems. Some over the counter medicines that are available contain excessive amounts of urea or lactic acid which are reported to cause ulcers in some cases.

Wear clean cotton socks or stockings every day. They should not be to short or to tight. A sock that is to short may bunch up around the foot, and stockings that are to tight will constrict and interfere with blood circulation.

If your feet sweat, wear leather shoes, as leather breathes. Use foot powder to help keep your feet dry. Switch your shoes every day as this will let them dry out.
Choose shoes that fit and are comfortable in the store when you are trying them on! If they feel uncomfortable in the store, they will still feel uncomfortable at home and will probably not stretch to fit later on.
Do not assume that a shoe will fit if it is marked as your size, always try shoes on before you buy them and walk around in them for a bit, to ensure comfort, as your feet spread with age and the marked size may differ according to the style of the shoe.
Buy shoes in the afternoon, as your feet swell to their largest then.
Your toes should be able to wiggle in the front of the shoe, the heel should fit tightly and the sides of the shoe should not gape.
Wear appropriate shoes for the right occasion; e.g. jogging shoes for jogging etc
Feet exercises
The feet were made for walking, and walking in comfortable shoes is considered to be an excellent exercise for the feet.

We have included the following exercises, which you may find to be of benefit. It is recommended that these exercises be done twice a week.

We are not medical professionals, and suggest that, if you are in any doubt as to using these exercises, you consult a medical professional. If you experience any discomfort while doing these exercises stop doing them and refer to your medical practitioner.

The following exercises are said to improve blood circulation to the feet and help prevent foot problems.

Starting position:

Take off your shoes and socks/stockings. Sit upright on a firm chair so that your bare feet rest comfortably on the floor. Don't lean back.

Exercise 1
(repeat 10 times)
Lift the toes and the front part of the feet as far as possible with the heels remaining on the floor. Lift the heels as far as possible, with the toes remaining on the floor.
Relax and repeat.
Exercise 2
(repeat 10 times for each foot and then 10 times together)
The heels remain on the floor. Lift the toes and front part of the feet and bend towards your face. Turn out to the sides and return to the middle.
Relax and repeat
Exercise 3
(repeat 10 times)
Bend the toes of both feet away from you with the heels remaining on the floor and stretch the feet.
Relax and repeat.
Exercise 4
(repeat 10 times for each foot and then 10 times for both together)
The toes remain on the floor. Lift the heels. Turn heels out and return to the middle.
Relax and repeat
Exercise 5
(Repeat 10 times per leg)
Lift the knee. Stretch the leg. Stretch the foot (toes pointing away from you). Put foot down on the floor and repeat with the other leg.
Relax and repeat
Exercise 6
(Repeat 10 times per leg)
Stretch the leg with the heel on the floor. Lift the extended leg. Bend the foot so that the toes point towards you.
Relax and repeat
Exercise 7
(Repeat 10 times)
The same as Exercise 6, but with both legs lifted at the same time.
Exercise 8
(do this once)
Put a page of newspaper on the floor and crumple it up with your feet, making it into a tight ball.
Now, again using only your feet, undo the ball and spread out the page once again. Using the toes of both feet, tear up the newspaper into little pieces.
Exercise 9
(Repeat 10 times)
Stretch and bend the feet and ankles with both legs lifted and stretched.
Exercise 10
(Repeat 10 times per leg)
Lift and stretch out the leg. Make circles with your foot making your ankle twist around as much as possible. Draw numbers in the air with your foot.

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